Re: Square Root of Eight Dead Children

Lois Shawver (
Sun, 17 Mar 1996 19:14:38 -0800 (PST)


You want to know what you have said that I agree with and disagree with?
It seems to me that it would simplify both your theory, and my reaction
to it, to classify your various points according to whether I agree with
them -- but I suppose I can take this as an invitation to talk a little
about my own ideas in relation to yours. In that spirit then, I'll talk
a little about how my ideas are, I think, inclined to be a little
different from yours, as I understand yours.

I suppose I could say that I see constructs as more contextual than you
seem to. My picture is that your "weaving" of constructs paints a picture
of the individual self as created out of the building blocks of our
constructs. In contrast, I think back about Kelley describing REP therapy
in which people took on constructs in a kind of roleplay and the were
changed by that process. Remember? And I think of people moving in and
out of different constructs as they move in and out of different
linguistic communities. Please understand, I am not saying that people
are completely wishy-washy in this way. They have perspectives and ideas
that they bring to each new situation, habits of thought, if you will, but
as a matter of emphasis, I think I am more struck by the flexibility of
attachment to our constructs than you seem to me to be.

I even toy sometimes with the Greek philosophy of logos, and think of our
constructs as existing in a kind of way of reasoning, or way of seeing
things, that exists outside any particular individual. I am not tempted
to view this as a mystical other reallm, however. I see it as existing in
our inscriptions (our books, our memorized passages, our art, our
routinized language, etc.) -- for our dialogue does not require us to talk
only with living people. (This has much in common with Popper's concept
of "objective knowledge".) Because language exists apart from a person
(after that person dies, or passed down from one person to another,
changed, but still somewhat the same) we can talk, so to speak, as you do,
answering the questions of Plato, and letting the ancients, even anonymous
ancients, become our conversational partners. And we can do the same
thing with our contemporaries, letting them inform our constructs or
resisting that, deliberately or otherwise. We can do that with each other
here, either letting our minds open up for a moment to engage with a
person who thinks with different constructs, or by resisting that.

Thinking this way leads me to pull books from my shelf that talk to me
about these things, to read Wittgenstein, Derrida, or Ricoeur, for
example, to study the way in which we are not merely victims of the
constructs we have inherited but that we impose and our constructs on
others, build institutions with them, shape and mold destinies, by
legislating definitions that become part of our communal way of
understanding. And they impose their constructs on us.

If I have understood you correctly, then I believe you and I are bringing
different constructs, different metaphors, to our dialogue. But don't you
think it is possible for someone like me to suspend my attachment to the
postmodern point of view that sings to me at this phase in my life and sit
with you a while to try to understand what you have to say? And to learn
from that?

I hope so. If not, we are all truly trapped by our constructs and

About polarized constructs: Bill, I'm afraid I may not have read your
posts as carefully on this issue as I might have. Was that something you
addressed specifically to me? Or may I have missed it, or part of your
explanation, because you made these points before your notes caught my
eye. I am afraid I do a lot of deleting before notes catch my eye - but
you did that. At any rate, I have not asked you to explain it again
because I "disagree with it". I don't understand it yet.

..Lois Shawver